Guidebook A city full of bustle, charm, heritage and class


A city full of bustle, charm, heritage and class

Hanoi’s “pulse has quickened” in recent years, writes Robyn Eckhardt in The New York Times. The reason: “an influx of entrepreneurial Vietnamese returnees, expats and a creative Internet-enabled population.” Hanoi is changing fast, she says -- “it feels poised over a sweet spot, its tree-lined lanes and graceful old architecture, traditional culture and fantastic street food complemented by a contemporary arts scene that’s managed to survive bouts of censorship, idiosyncratic boutiques and increasingly sophisticated dining and night life.”

It’s “full of bustle” and “more attractive than sprawling Saigon,” comments Natalie Paris in The Telegraph. Focused around Hoan Kiem lake -- “a green oasis with an island pagoda, steeped in legend and caressed by the fronds of banyan trees” -- and the French Quarter’s “boulevards and faded colonial buildings” and the “web of lanes that make up the Old Quarter,” you could feel “little has changed on these narrow streets.” And although its population is over seven million, Hanoi feels “modest” compared to Ho Chi Minh City because of the “compactness of the capital’s time-worn Old Quarter, where most visitors will start their visit,” says Darren Loucaides in The Independent.  

“The Hanoi of today is not short on class,” notes AFAR, “as anyone who has fallen for its evocation of Indochinese charm or witnessed recent introductions such as top-end restaurants, designer boutiques, and even Bentleys will know.” It’s a city that is “as thrilling as it is beguiling, its buzzing streets alive with colorful sights, pungent smells, and often deafening sounds.” Not least because of its “fascinating blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French influences.” But if Hanoi is “changing quickly,” it still “maintains a strong identity.”  

Hanoi is “no outdoor museum like the great cities of Europe,” writes Robert Kaplan in The Atlantic. That’s because its “screaming, pulsating business district, with hordes of motorbikes -- the drivers texting on cellphones in traffic jams -- and cutting-edge facades” invade an “otherwise cruddy-drab jumble of storefronts.” Hanoi, he says, is “still in the ungainly process of becoming -- closer to the disheveled chaos of India than to the alienating sterility of Singapore.”

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